The Unvarnished Truth About Social Media Insider's 2014 Predictions

About a year ago at this time, feeling uncharacteristically clairvoyant -- it must have been the eggnog -- I made 2014 predictions about 10 social media platforms. And then I said that at the end of the year -- which is nigh -- I would revisit them and eat humble pie if I had to about whether I was right or wrong.

Herewith, the promised revisit of my 2014 predictions, which, like the original columns, will come in two parts, with part two coming next week. So, how’d I do with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace and Pinterest? Read on, and snicker, if you must!

Prediction for Facebook in 2014: “The biggest thing to happen to Facebook advertising will be video ads, which are in test now … when these video ads become more prevalent, here’s what will happen: A core group of rabid users will whine for a couple of days -- and then go right back to using Facebook the way they always have.”

The Unvarnished Truth About Facebook in 2014: The biggest thing to happen to Facebook advertising in 2014 was … mobile (sigh). While this was true of 2013, it was more true this year, with mobile advertising accounting for 66% of third quarter ad revenue, compared with 49% in the same quarter last year. That said, my 2014 prediction seems ripe for 2015! Last week, the platform announced it would start running video app-install ads in mobile, and a major advertiser – Heineken – said that the performance of a recent video ad it ran on Facebook rivaled that of its YouTube placement. And, news flash: despite my confident prediction that people would whine about video ads, this doesn’t seem to have happened in any big way.



Prediction for Instagram in 2014: “The floodgates to Instagram Ads will not open in 2014 – which will be more because of Instagram not wanting to disrupt the user experience too much, rather than because advertisers won’t be interested. Expect a trickle of ads instead. With Facebook as Sugar Daddy, what’s the rush?”

The Unvarnished Truth About Instagram in 2014: While it wasn’t exactly all quiet on the Instagram front in 2014, this prediction held largely true. Let’s put it this way: based on the most recent earnings report, Instagram’s aforementioned Sugar Daddy isn’t making so much money off of the visual platform that it needs to mention it when it’s talking to investors. Yes, there was that $40 million ad deal with Omnicom Group, and the release of an analytics tool -- and a tiptoe into video -- but even with those expansions of its ad platform, Instagram is following a clear slow-and-steady-wins-the-race strategy. Of course, slow-and-steady does not refer to Instagram’s user growth. It remains one of the fastest-growing social platforms; according to the Global Web Index, it has grown in active users over the last six months by 64%, and this week, it surpassed Twitter in number of users, surging from 200 million to 300 million in the space of nine months.

Prediction for LinkedIn in 2014: “ [L]ook for LinkedIn to take steps to make it a more open platform compared to other social platforms, which break down barriers instead of erecting them. (Maybe that was more of a wish than a prediction.)”

The Unvarnished Truth About LinkedIn in 2014: Wow, it’s great to be right. Not two months after my predictions column published, LinkedIn got over its fixation with just having influencers publish by saying it would allow all members do so. Yup, we can’t all be Bill Gates. And the results are in. The expansion of the publishing platform is one of the main factors engagement on LinkedIn has increased. Now rolled out to 100 million members, the platform hosts 40,000 new pieces of long-form content per week.

Prediction for Myspace in 2014: “Wasn’t 2013 supposed to be the year of its comeback? My prediction for 2014 is … whatever.”

The Unvarnished Truth About Myspace in 2014: Whatever.

Prediction for Pinterest in 2014: “Pinterest will really make good on its extensive promise as an advertising and ecommerce platform, a prediction that’s so obvious, it’s actually embarrassing to make it. It’s like predicting a privacy controversy at Facebook.”

The Unvarnished Truth About Pinterest in 2014: Pinterest delivered, sort of, but that prediction would have been more accurate if it recognized that big leaps forward at Pinterest are a bit smaller than they might be for some other platforms. It certainly isn’t saturated in ads, nor is it as timid about advertising as it once was. In September, it took the positively Facebook-ian step of allowing advertisers to pull data from elsewhere to inform ad targeting on the platform. Advertisers can now use their own customer databases to target on Pinterest. It is also working on a conversion tracking capability that will let advertisers prove that Pinterest users bought goods on their sites. Still, it will be a long time before Pinterest becomes a sell-out – that is, if you regard accepting advertising as a sell-out.

Stay tuned to the next Social Media Insider to see how well, I predicted 2014 for Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. Spoiler alert: While I did OK with these predictions, in the second edition, I go off the rails just a bit.
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